December 17th, 2009
10:56 AM ET
6 months ago

Pawlenty: Not taking sides in most GOP primaries

 Possible 2012 GOP White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty says he will not take sides in most Republican primary battles next year.
Possible 2012 GOP White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty says he will not take sides in most Republican primary battles next year.

(CNN) – Possible 2012 GOP White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty says he will not take sides in most Republican primary battles next year.

In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, the two-term Minnesota governor says he will not endorse or have his political action committee contribute to Republican Senate or House candidates who are competing in "open, transparent" primary campaigns, including the GOP Senate primary battle heating up in the Granite State.

Pawlenty, along with many other Republicans, backed conservative candidate Dough Hoffman over Republican party nominee Dede Scozzafava in this autumn's intra-party fight in a special election for the House Seat in New York's 23 Congressional District.

Pawlenty told the Union Leader that he took sides because local party bosses used an "incredibly flawed, insular, closed and unfair process" to chose the Scozzafava, who he said was far too liberal on key issues.

Scozzafava eventually dropped out of the race just three days before the election. The Democrat in the contest won the election, taking a district Republicans have controlled for more than a century.

Pawlenty was the featured speaker Wednesday night at a fundraiser in Concord for New Hampshire State Senate Republicans.

In the interview with the Union Leader, Pawlenty said if his party hopes to regain the trust of the American people that it lost earlier this decade, it must return to its conservative roots and then practice what it preaches.

"We've got to explain using conservative principles, conservative ideas and values, why our approach, even if it may not be instant gratification, is better for families and individuals and regular working people all across this country on those kind of issues, those bread and butter, meat and potatoes issues," said Pawlenty.

Pawlenty announced this past summer he would not seek a third term as governor next year, fueling speculation he is setting his sights on a presidential bid instead. Since then, he's become a frequent speaker at major Republican and conservative conferences across the country. He also took on a high profile role as vice chairman of the Republican Governor's Association.

The governor also rolled out a new political action committee in October and announced a group of new advisers, several of whom advised Pawlenty's likely 2012 rival - former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney - during his 2008 presidential bid. Last month, Pawlenty traveled to Iowa to headline the state GOP's annual leadership dinner, one of the two major annual events for the state party. Iowa's caucuses kick off the presidential primary season.

New Hampshire's primary is traditionally the second contest on the presidential primary calendar. As for his thinking on whether he'll eventually make a bid for his party's presidential nomination in 2012, Pawlenty told the Union-Leader that "I haven't ruled it out, but I haven't ruled it in, either. I've got a job to do in Minnesota rule, to finish my term as governor. After that, we'll see."

But Pawlenty added that "clearly the country is in need of new and different leadership. Who that is and the message and whether somebody like me needs to be or should be the messenger, that all remains to be seen. But I just don't know, to be frank about it."

Pawlenty's expected to meet with a group of young Republicans before leaving New Hampshire Thursday and heading back to Minnesota.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. BS Fan

    Pawlenty got burned supporting an awful candidate. Hoffman couldn't legislate his way out of a paper bag. Perhaps support should not be based on goofy dogma. I guess by not supporting anyone, you can't get it wrong.

    December 17, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. Martin, GA

    Good maneuver on the NY race Tee-PEEUWWW you helped lose a seat held for 100 years! No wonder you won't endorse again, it means nothing and your idiocy is just on display when you get your big freaking beak smacked in

    December 17, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    Hey, T-Paw, good to see you! It's been a long, long time ... good to see all is well with you!

    Wish I could say the same for Minnesota...

    December 17, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. mary from minnesota

    Of course he won't. Although it appears that TimPaw is "Mr. Nice Guy" he is really a devious, vindictive person. Believe me, you don't want him for your President.

    December 17, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Pawlenty = Loser

    For holding up the Minnesota Senate race, he will never get my vote.

    December 17, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. T'SAH from Virginia

    goodAndPawLENTY is NOT taking sides because the entire RepubliCAN'T party has NO SIDES!!! They are scattered about with an AIR-HEAD leading them – the PA'IN!!!

    He takes a STAB at Palin now by saying "...I've got a job to do in Minnesota rule, to finish my term as governor. After that, we'll see." OUCH, THAT HURTS!!!

    The RepubliCAN'Ts may think they are on the rise NOW, but they will be figured out by 2010 and 2012 and get NO WHERE!!

    December 17, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. GI Joe

    He's afraid.

    Doesn't know what he stands for - has to wait for Limbaugh to tell him. ha ha

    December 17, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Come on Tim, grow a pair. If you want to be a leader, you should take a stand.

    December 17, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. REPUBLICANS LIE

    This idiot and all of the other Republicrap governors should definitely follow the fine example of ex-Governor Sarah Palin, the great hero and leader of the Republicrap party, and quit!

    December 17, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. notfooledbydistractions

    Coward.

    He just wants to play both sides of the street. If you have principles, you stick by them. It appears mr. pawlenty is incapable of doing so.

    December 17, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. Donkey Party

    If I wanted Conservative rule, I'd move to Iran. Isn't Pawlenty just the type of lame-duck that quitter Palin said goes around spending taxpayer money to grease hands and push a personal agenda until they leave office? Pawlenty is not worthy of the office of President. He is worthy of being one of the biggest douchebags on the political scene however.

    December 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. Minnesotan

    "Possible 2012 GOP White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty...." is a total joke as a candidate. Considering he received only 5% of the votes at last month's Republican Presidential hoo-hah, it's amazing that he even thinks he has a chance. Here in Minnesota, he's known for being asleep at the switch when the bridge fell, lying about taxes by initating "fees," partisan pandering, being absent from his duties, and not working with our representatives, but instead, pushing his own failed agendas.

    December 17, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. CT in CT

    "Pawlenty told the Union Leader that he took sides because local party bosses used an "incredibly flawed, insular, closed and unfair process" to chose the Scozzafava, who he said was far too liberal on key issues."

    =====================
    Yeah, the "flaw" was not letting outsiders like Pawlenty and Palin handpick the person they wanted versus letting the local GOP members vote on who best represents them and their views and will do the best job

    Pawlenty-Palin don't see a need for a hard worker who gets things done; just someone who professes to their stringent belief system

    December 17, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. Aunt Bea and Opie

    The poor little chipmunk doesnt have a clue.His chances are little to none,but dont tell him that,we would hate to ruin his Christmas wish.hahaha

    December 17, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Kevin in MA

    "We've got to explain using conservative principles, conservative ideas and values, why our approach, even if it may not be instant gratification, is better for families and individuals and regular working people all across this country on those kind of issues, those bread and butter, meat and potatoes issues," said Pawlenty.

    I could not agree more. When are you going to start? And is this the issue that breaks the 'right of center' world into pieces?

    December 17, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. Bugl3t

    Can you say CYA?

    What a wimp... he cannot even make a choice about who represents his party... how can he pretend he can make choices to govern this nation?

    December 17, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Conservative prinicples of less regulation really worked well. So well that we have TARP in effect. Tax cuts really work with two armed conflicts going on to pay for. I really like these ballooning deficits. Only in an ideal world where people are honest and things work they way that conservatives want would this work.

    December 17, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  18. dennis parker

    He has been and still is a poor excuse for a governor. he has destoryed our education system, cut health care for the old and poor. He keepssaying that he cuts taxes, but the cities and small towns have rased taxes, cut police protection

    December 17, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. John

    WOW just look at him another evangelical republican IDIOT! i bet minnesotawill be glad to be rid of him. Another savior for the most gullable people on the planet!

    December 17, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. Gil Oberdas

    A conservative point of view got us into the mess that Obama inherited with deregulation of banks, other lending institutions, EPA and product safety! Tom P. is just another one of those conseratives with Know nothing!.

    December 17, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. benvictor

    Agree too early for Tim to side with anybody at this point. With the liberals in disaster mode and their guy in free fall in the polls, let the republican side play out. Further, let the disaster on the left play out, for it is just beginning.

    December 17, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  22. Reagan was wrong

    Tim Pawlenty's opinions are eagerly followed by Tim Pawlenty.

    December 17, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Tom St. Paul

    He took a shot at endorsing the "conservative -pure" loser the NY23 race and the voters handed him and Hoffman their butts! Now he's gonna hold back to see which way the wind blows. We MNns know him to be a neocon without the Southern accent, and due to his NY23 endorsement, so does the rest of the country. Throw him on the heap with Coburn, Ensign, Sanford and the rest of that ilk!

    December 17, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |